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AXA plans to float US operations

AXA plans to float US operations

AXA is planning to float its US operations, which includes its 64% stake in asset manager AllianceBernstein (AB), as part of a strategic restructuring of its business.

The French insurer said it intends to list a minority stake in its US operations, which consists of its US life and savings business and its AB stake, in the first half of 2018.

The group already caused a stir last week after it fired the asset manager's chief executive, Peter Kraus, and several board members and appointed a new chief executive and chairman, Seth Bernstein, who joined from JPMorgan Asset Management.

'With Seth Bernstein, the new AB CEO, we have the unique opportunity together to create a leading US life insurance, annuity and asset management company,' said Mark Pearson, chief executive of AXA US.

The listing of its US operations is designed to bring the group additional financial flexibility, AXA said in its statement, help reduce its exposure to financial risks and strengthen its capital position.

Ahead of the IPO, about $1 billion of outstanding debt owed by AXA US to AXA Group will be converted into equity. The proceeds of the transaction would be reinvested in the group’s priority lines of business, as outlined by Thomas Buberl, AXA chief executive.

‘The decision to prepare for a listing of our US operations is a key step towards our 2020 objectives: we believe the current environment is supportive of this strategic initiative which would create significant additional financial flexibility to accelerate the transformation of the AXA Group around health, capital-light savings, protection and property and casualty commercial lines, our priority lines of business,’ he said.

‘At the same time, we are convinced our US operations would be better positioned as a listed company in the US, operating on a level-playing field under local regulatory rules, and would benefit from greater strategic flexibility to deliver sustainable and profitable growth.’

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